The Reed Pocket Dictionary of Modern Maori


THE REED POCKET DICTIONARY OF MODERN MAORI, PM Ryan, Reed Publishing New Zealand Ltd, 1999.

When I came down to Tauranga this was dictionary was a gift I received from one of the first people I met in my new town. Te reo Maori is one of New Zealand’s three official languages; the other two are (New Zealand) English and Sign Language for the Deaf. Maori place names, words and phrases are everywhere and in daily usage but often with a pronunciation that may not be that of a fluent language speaker.

One of the languages I was taught at school was French with its additional little strokes and symbols to indicate the nature of the letter sound – my lap top often includes a grave or an acute at will. Those of you who read and speak te reo Maori will instantly see that my less than new laptop does not have the facility to include the correct vowel lengthening macron. In reality this could of course be fatal as different vowel lengths create different sounds and therefore different words and meanings.

I’m starting with the vowels, as much as for me as for you. An English language approximation of sound is given

“a as in far not hat

e like ea in leather not hay or may

i as in Latin languages like me or he

o as in awe not oh

u as in moon not ew as in few

This edition of ARTbop will be published in August – Akuhata, Here turi koka.

Perhaps the words we are most familiar with are our New Zealand National Anthem

E Ihowa Atua O

nga iwi matou ra

ata whakarongo na;

Me aroha noa

Kia hua ko te pai

Kia tau to atawhai

Manaakita mai


God of Nations at they feet

in the bonds of love we meet

Hear our voices we entreat

God defend our free land.

Guard Pacific’s triple star from the shafts of strife and war,

Make her praises heard afar,

God defend New Zealand.

Taken from the website of Karaitiana Taiuru, Advocate of Indigenous/Asia Pacific Internet/Online Issues

Rosemary Balu


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